Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

ONE DAY left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Student loan borrowers and the Too Much Talent Band thank President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for extending the student loan pause while demanding that they cancel student debt at a gathering outside the White House on January 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Student loan borrowers and the Too Much Talent Band thank President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for extending the student loan pause while demanding that they cancel student debt at a gathering outside the White House on January 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million)

'Just Cancel It': 85% of Young US Voters Want Action on Student Debt

A plurality of Americans under age 30 surveyed by Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics support canceling all outstanding student loan debt.

Brett Wilkins

Nearly nine in 10 young Americans want the government to address the student loan debt crisis, with a plurality—but overall minority—supporting full cancellation, according to the results of a national survey published Monday.

The survey, conducted by Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics (IOP), found that 85% of respondents under age 30 "favor some form of government action on student loan debt."

However, "young Americans had no clear consensus on a path forward related to student loan debt," with 38% of overall respondents wanting all debt canceled, 27% agreeing that the government should assist with—but not cancel—repayment, 21% favoring cancellation for the neediest borrowers, and 13% supporting the status quo.

Among Democratic voters, the survey found 43% support for canceling all debt, 19% wanting some government help, 29% backing cancellation for those in need, and 4% favoring current policy.

"Opinions on this issue do not differ significantly among likely voters in the 2022 midterms compared to the broader population of 18-to-29-year-olds," said IOP, "as 83% of young likely voters express a preference for government action, including 79% of those not in college now, and without a degree."

The IOP survey also found:

  • A majority (54%) of white Americans and 49% of Asian-Americans under 30 "strongly" agreed with the statement, "I grew up thinking it was possible for me to go to college," compared to only 32% of Black Americans and 38% of Latinos under 30; and 
  • Forty-eight percent of young Americans agree—but only 18% strongly agree—with the statement, "Going to college is worth the time and money," while 26% disagreed and 24% chose a neutral position.

The survey also revealed that young people are increasingly cynical about the ability of electoral politics to deliver solutions to the world's problems.

In what IOP called a "warning sign that interest in voting in the 2022 midterms could wane," the survey found a sharp increase in the percentage of youth who agree that "political involvement rarely has any tangible results," from 22% in 2018 to 36% in 2022. More than four in 10 survey respondents also agreed with the assertion that their vote won't "make a real difference," while over half of those surveyed believe that "politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just ONE DAY left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Assange Makes Final Appeal Against US Extradition

"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we," said a protester at a Friday demonstration against the WikiLeaks founder's impending transfer. "None of us is free."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money': Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

"It was the conservative court's larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans' health and safety," warned one expert.

Jake Johnson ·

NARAL Pro-Choice Endorses Fetterman—Who Vows to End Senate Filibuster to Protect Abortion Rights

"We know we can count on him to boldly fight for abortion rights and access," said the head of one of the nation's largest reproductive rights advocacy groups.

Jon Queally ·

Common Dreams Logo